As you know from my last (and probably overly-enthusiastic) post, this week is Invisible Disability Week! The best week ever for someone with an invisible disability, a time of acceptance, recognition, awareness... (record scratch) except in school. It is beyond my comprehension why the school goes out of its way for breast cancer and autism, but can't take five seconds during the announcements to say "Oh yea, next week is invisible disability week, wear white." Many students with invisible disabilities are hassled and harassed all the time about needing accommodations. Apparently, we aren't "disabled enough" (insert eyeroll). But school-wide recognition of Invisible Disability Week could change so much! This is why all schools should recognize Invisible Disability Week:
1. We would be teaching students acceptance
There is an abundance of studies that say students bully each other, and too many kids with disabilities are bullied. Teaching kids about invisible disabilities will educate them about it, and therefore greatly decrease bullying
2. Students and teachers with invisible disabilities will get the recognition they deserve
During October, the teachers with breast cancer get their names announced on the district website and over the P.A. During April, students with autism get their names put up all around the school. But when do students with other disabilities get recognition? Invisible disability week gives them the chance to talk about it with their peers, but they can't do that without the support of their own schools.
3. Educated students grow up to be understanding adults
Too many stories are floating around the web about adults being rude to people who need handicap parking but "don't look disabled." We can almost completely eliminate this issue by educating children when they're young, so acceptance will come naturally as adults. By teaching kids that not all disabilities are visible, they gain acceptance for their disabled peers and learn not to assume that all people with disabilities use wheelchairs.
4. We would be killing hundreds of birds with one stone (not literally)
Since there are a lot of different disability and disease awareness days, we can deal with it all in one week with Invisible Disabilities Week. And for the things that don't have an awareness day, that's even better! Honestly a school shouldn't be so lazy as to only use this reason as to why they recognize Invisible Disability Week, but as long as it is being recognized, I don't care (don't judge me I'm 14 and get 2 hours worth of homework per night).
5. Adults would be showing that (gasp!) they actually care about kids with disabilities!
Many kids with disabilities (especially invisible disabilities) aren't exactly taken seriously. It's hard enough getting adults to listen to us because we're kids, but add in a "fake" disability and you've got a recipe for mockery, laughter, and harassment. Adults aren't very willing to make accommodations for us, seeing as we're just "silly kids who don't know what we're talking about." With the recognition of Invisible Disability Week, not only would adults become better educated, but the adults would show that they actually care about us and our physical and mental wellbeing.
6. It would supply the conversation starter that so many students need
Imagine going up to someone and saying, "Hey I have a disability but I don't look like it and it looks like I'm fooling around but I'm not." Now imagine a child having to explain this to an adult. Yea, it's never pretty. When classes are talking about invisible disabilities, that gives a child a chance to jump in and say, "Hey, I have that!"
Please share this with the school(s) in your area. We need to get the word out and spread our message.
UPDATE: A version of this post was published on The Mighty! You can read it here!
I'm a 15 year old who loves singing, reading, writing, and campaigning for hypotonia awareness.
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